Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shooting Osprey

Today my friend, Margo, and I went shooting at Sawgrass Lake Park. It's one of my favorite parks to shoot. It's almost a guarantee that one will find wildlife around 8:00 am. Today was no different.

Before we even got into to the park we spotted a Little Blue Heron, a Snowy Egret and a Tricolor Heron on the edge of the canal. We made a few shots of the Tricolor Heron and went off into the park.

A few minutes later, we spotted a young Raccoon, less than 5 ft away, and he didn't mind it one bit that we were taking pictures of him. In fact, he didn't pay any attention to us at all. Right after that, we saw an American Alligator, but there was too much brush between him and us. We couldn't get off a decent shot of him. Then the fun began. We spotted this Osprey hunting above the water.

I told Margo to shoot anything successfully, you need to know a lot about it. Just like in sports, to get the best shot, you need to know the sport enough to know where the action is and to be ready for it when it happens.

While watching this Osprey circling, I told her that in a few minutes she'd see him spread out his talons, like in the second photo in this series. After that, we'd see him hovering, then he'd dive and they always get their fish.

These shots show all of these actions just as they were unfolding. The first shot is of him circling, the second spreading his talons, then the hovering followed by the dive.

It's amazing to see how fast they can dive and how hard they hit the water; and just as fast, with wet wings, come up with their fish. They always carry the fish head first because there is less drag and it's pretty difficult for a bird that size to fly with wet wings.

What an amazing experience it is to capture all these steps in a sequence. They are awesome birds to watch.

Later, on the way out of the park we saw another American Alligator and we were able to get some decent shots of it before we left.

On the way out, Margo spotted a Gopher Tortoise and we stopped to grab a few photos of him as well.

I can't get over how much wildlife we spotted today. It was such a productive day.

I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed making these shots. Don't forget to check out Margo's post. She'll probably be posting something from today's shoot. You can find her blog here: http://mangosphotos.blogspot.com/. Check it out; she's an amazing photographer with an awesome eye.
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